How many of you out there ignore a phone call but respond to a text within 30 seconds? Many may be unwilling to admit it, but it happens more often than you think. This proves one thing: People are addicted to, and prefer, texting as their main form of communication. Either that, or our culture is riddled with social phobias. Perhaps, that last part was just my general observation, but even so, text marketing has paved a path through the media clutter and has found its way to the top.

Reaching your audience has never been faster or more reasonably priced. And reaching the younger, tech-savvy market has never been easier.

Text Messaging (a.k.a. SMS – Short Message Service) is a fast, easy way to send a message, without interrupting work or home activities, and is aimed at enhancing a social experience and convincing consumers to buy. In fact, many customers who sign up for promotional texts actually read them. Yes, I said it. They read them – 83 percent within the first hour to be exact.

Businesses that are not using text marketing are missing out on increasing their marketing power tenfold.

Here are a few tips to get your company on the path of the mobile marketing movement:

1. Use an Opt-In List

By using an opt-in list, you will reach the targeted consumers that are truly interested in getting your text message offers. This allows you to speak more directly to your customer and also ask them what they are interested in receiving.

But how do you get people to sign up? Won’t they just think you’re a texting pest?

You can create a numbers list in a few ways:

• Indirect Approach: When the customer is at the point of purchase, either in person or online, let them know you need their number to contact them about their incoming orders or confirming appointments. You will need to get their permission at this point.

• Direct Approach: Ask the customer for their number in order to specifically send them text marketing and offers.

Interestingly, more consumers prefer the indirect approach, and are more likely to continue to receive messages if they feel they signed up to get information, rather than be viewed as a “sale.”

2. Provide Exclusive, Real-Time Offers of Immediate Value

Customers thrive on exclusive sales. People want to feel like they are being treated special and given opportunities to get free products.

You can recognize your text marketing customers in a variety of ways:

• Reward first time sign ups. Instant rewards help form an immediate bond with your brand, and establish trust for repeat customers.

• Your offers should be unique. Don’t send deals that anyone else could get by logging on to your website or walking into your business. Your customers want to feel like you know them on a personal level, and that they are getting more for being part of your ‘club.’ Put in the extra effort to show them they are getting these texts for a reason.

• Don’t forget about the long-term customers. Show your loyal customers that they aren’t forgotten. Reward these customer with higher discounts, free products and create a loyalty points redemption system.

3. Develop a Referral Program

A lot of companies miss out on new customers because they don’t have a text message referral program in place. If current customers like your services, they will tell others. Text messaging is easy to share, so why not create an incentive for doing so? This way your opted-in customers will be more likely to send your message or coupon to a friend, and you can build your numbers list that much faster.

4. Don’t Send Too Often

A good gauge for text marketing is to send one offer every few weeks. This helps maintain the “excitement factor” and also helps you avoid being viewed as a spammer. Sending too many messages can cause consumers to become disenchanted with your brand and opt-out. You don’t want that.

5. The Results Are Incredible

Phones have become a necessity over computers and people are tied to their phones 24/7. This would explain why text messages are opened 95 percent of the time, compared to email messages, which are opened 25 percent of the time. With text marketing, the messages also stay on the consumer’s phone until it’s deleted. This increases the amount of exposure and potential customers that the message could be seen by and shared with.

Text marketing enhances all forms of marketing. It is a quick, mobile reminder that travels with the user and can be shared many times over, bringing you more business and loyal customers.